Saturday, August 30, 2014

Me, Michael Sata, and Country

"The notion that a radical is one who hates his country is naive and usually idiotic. He is, more likely, one who likes his country more than the rest of us, and is thus more disturbed than the rest of us when he sees it debauched. He is not a bad citizen turning to crime; he is a good citizen driven to despair."
- H.L. Mencken

This year, this backwater country of my birth celebrates its 50th year of independence from the British Colonialists, though I don’t know what is being celebrated. And it is nearly three years since the Patriotic Front (PF) came to power, and already I see so-called golden jubilee billboards with Michael Sata on them.

Strangely, I really don’t remember reading about him in the grade seven or form five history books of our country. I remember reading about Lewanika, Kaunda, Nkumbula, Chona, Kapwepwe, Katilungu, and that famous lady who stripped to scare the colonialists, just to mention a few. Funny, I always forget her name. Perhaps, the history teacher was always so fascinated with Otto von Bismarck that he forgot to mention Michael Sata. Anyway, that is a discussion for another day. Sic!

I love my country even though I often refer to it as a backwater country. I know there are those who often argue that referring to one’s country as backwater is evidence of lack of pride in one’s country.

In my mind there is clearly nothing wrong in one always reminding oneself that the country of their birth is a place in which no expected substantive political and socio-economic progress is occurring. If anything, pretending the contrary is evidence of lack of pride in one’s country.

We must always remember that we can only change our circumstances, more so the circumstances of the multitudes of the poor among us (fifty one years from the day we celebrated our independence), if we accept that we are indeed a backwater country.

In the near three years of PF being in power, there are many of us who are now subjected to uninformed, infantile and unreasoned flak whenever we criticize the Government. Perhaps, what these nihilist protectors of the State do not really know is that our position has never changed.

Lack of respect for civil liberties, dictatorial tendencies, abuse of public resources for political hegemony, lack of transparency on governance issues, and unreasoned submissiveness were vogue then. They are still vogue today, if not more abominable! How then can any right thinking citizen expect us to shut up?

We criticize, because we love country and we hope for something better as a people. And if what we are criticizing today is what we criticized yesterday, all the more reason that a government and its crawlers should listen. This is simply because PF could not have been the incumbent ruling party, if it did not in any way campaign on the basis of our criticisms of the previous governments.

This is not to say we are not cognisant of whatever infrastructure development strides the PF and previous government have undertaken. But we must always remember that political parties contest to form government to, not only build roads, hospitals, but more importantly to uphold the liberties and dignity of individuals in the country.

Whereas there are those that believe we should shut up because Michael Sata is building roads, etc at unprecedented (if not fiscally unsustainable) levels, I vehemently believe my civil liberties, the right to express myself is more important as that is what can determine what country we need. Shutting up is not a solution. It is merely evidence of hate of one’s country.

It is unfortunate that the intensity and perversity of the inability of today’s ruling party supporters and government itself, to stomach any form of criticism is now reaching dangerous levels. Any form of criticism, which is often well intended, galls them to the extent that they actually turn blue with rage like a Bunsen burner. The now frequent sadistic use of the State to violate civil liberties attests to their perplexing rage.

However, in hindsight today, I realize that their rage is not perplexing after all. It is simply a question of trying to be more holier! Most of today’s PF goody-goodies were not actually there in the formative years of the party.

Thus, our position is unlike some of the self-anointed megaphones of truth on governance in this country. These megaphones now seem to be always eating their own vomit of what they always said about Michael Sata and the PF when in opposition. They are now fawning around Michael Sata like they always idolized him. But I don’t buy into their fawning. It’s a fa├žade! Things are not right. Period.

Exactly, where were these goody-goodies that are now so holier than the incumbent President Michael Sata himself? Do they know him politically? Do they share his passion for country? Michael Sata’s love for country, we have never doubted, but for his means.

Even in the formative years of PF there were times Michael Sata would show evidence of disrespect for process and procedure as he deemed that abiding to these were mere retardation of progress. We never witnessed any evidence that can convince us that Michael Sata revered civil liberties, in particular freedom of expression and freedom to impart one’s ideals. He just always had to have his way!

Further, these are times in which the likes of Charles Chimumbwa, Edward Mumbi, Sylvia Chalikosa, Chisenga, Chileshe Mulenga, Paul Lumbi, Faustina Sinyangwe, Bernadette Mvula, Elizabeth Phiri, Guy Mulenga, Given Lubinda, and uncle Guy Scott stood up to his off-the-cuff decision making in an attempt to better develop and democratize the party. Today, we don’t hear much of such individuals from the PF’s formative years. Wonder where they went! Perhaps, if some of them were the ones closer to Michael Sata today and not the present goody-goodies that were never there then, they could have made a difference. Just perhaps, or is it wishful thinking?

Michael Sata loves country, as much as we do. Possibly, Michael Sata’s love for country is an infatuation that breaches expected norms in a democracy. Could be, he seriously needed the people from the formative years of his political party. These would, perhaps today, mitigate his historic “man-of-action” off-the-cuff tendencies. Off-the-cuff decision making, is regrettably dictatorial. It does not allow space for reasoned participation.

In wishful thought, during these trying times of us not having any irrefutable evidence of how he is, if some of these individuals of PF’s yesteryears were still around Michael Sata, may be we would not be subjected to the now unbearable suspense of why the President has not been seen in public for close to over two months now. A good number of these individuals loved Michael Sata and country, just like we do. They would do what is best for him. And not what is best for themselves, as can be suspected from the current Michael Sata crawlers.

Thus today, we ask: show us Michael Sata. We may have differences with his approach to democratic governance, but he is our President too. Verbum satis sapient .

Ora pro nobis.